Bread from La Farm bakery can be found in every Whole Foods Market in the Triangle, but soon you’ll find a La Farm bakery inside a new Whole Foods store in Cary.
The new Whole Foods anchoring the Alston Town Center development will include a full-scale La Farm Bakery and cafe when it opens later this year, La Farm announced Wednesday. Instead of just a selection of La Farm’s breads, the Whole Foods will make everything that already can be found in the flagship bakery at Preston Corners, including the pastries. A Whole Foods spokesperson said the store will open later this fall.
La Farm also is expanding the original location at 4248 NW Cary Parkway, moving into space previously occupied by an ABC store. The extra room will provide a few more seats in the cafe and a new room for private events. That expansion is expected in late September, according to a news release.
The growth builds on an already active year for the popular Cary bakery. The demand for crusty boules and baguettes and airy pastries led to this summer’s opening of a new production facility in downtown Cary.
“It’s still all around the bread,” said Lionel Vatinet, who started La Farm Bakery in 1999 with his wife, Missy Vatinet.
Since then, La Farm has been recognized nationally, added a food truck as well as a presence at the State Farmers Market. Lionel Vatinet has been named a semifinalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker for the past three years.
Alston Town Center, a mixed-used development, is in the fast-growing part of west Cary on N.C. 55 and Interstate 540, near Panther Creek High School.
The Whole Foods will serve as the anchor of the development. La Farm Bakery will occupy about 1,500 square feet, and the cafe will have 60 seats: 30 inside and 30 on an outdoor patio. The entire baking process will be on full display, with bakers shaping and kneading dough and pulling finished loaves from the oven all day.
“We’ve very excited about having the opportunity to have our bakers bake within the Whole Foods store and service the (market’s) customers and ours in that location,” Missy Vatinet said.
Whole Foods said the quality of La Farm’s bread and the bakery’s role in highlighting specific grains and mills led to the in-store cafe collaboration.
“The quality and taste of their breads and baked goods as well as the overall mission of La Farm Bakery align with the core values that set Whole Foods Market apart,” said Collen Conrad, culinary and hospitality director for Whole Food’s southern region, in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome Master Baker Lionel Vatinet and his team at our newest store.”
While the Whole Foods spot will give La Farm three bakeries, with bread going to all corners of the Triangle, Missy Vatinet said the couple doesn’t know how much bread they make.
“We get that question a lot,” she said. “We don’t talk about how many loaves we make, because we really haven’t sat down and figured it out exactly. Maybe we should one day. We focus on putting all of our energy into perfecting each single loaf.”
Though they’re baking on an industrial scale, or at least a regionally industrial scale, Missy Vatinet said they’ve resisted any temptation to automate things, and aren’t likely to change.
“A lot of bakeries move to automation, but that’s not a choice we’ve taken,” Missy Vatinet said. “There is nothing different in what we do now than we did 20 years ago. It’s a three-day process for our natural levain bread. Hand-shaped, slow proof, either 12, 16 or 18 hours. ... There are just more hands than just Lionel’s.”
The production facility in downtown Cary eventually will have a cafe, expected to open next year. In the meantime, the La Farm Bread Truck serves breakfast and lunch between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. outside.
La Farm is hiring for all three locations. It’s holding a job fair Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the 220 West Chatham St. production facility in Cary. The bakery is looking for retail associates, baristas, line cooks, bakers, pastry producers and managers.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson